If you want to visit Thailand in 2021, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Thailand will almost certainly re-open its borders to foreign visitors at some point next year.
The bad news? No one knows exactly when the border will re-open, or what form tourism in Thailand will take after months of idling. The status of the industry seems to correlate only loosely with the fundamentals of Covid-19 in Thailand, which has remained mostly under control.
Regardless of when you’d like to travel to Thailand again, let alone when you expect to be able to do so, I hope you’ll continue reading for up-to-the-minute information and insights.
The Truth About Coronavirus in Thailand
Before I explain the particulars of how you might visit Thailand in 2021, I have to give credit where credit is due: Thailand, assuming the numbers are at least somewhat accurate, has done a fantastic job containing Covid-19. With just over 3,000 cases and only around 50 deaths as of September 2020, the Kingdom has had one of the best coronavirus outcomes on the entire planet.
Unfortunately, Thailand’s medical success with coronavirus had resulted in economic failure of congruent magnitude. The government, for reasons both understandable and ludicrous, has created a paradigm where “zero infections” is the only acceptable future. Until this tide turns (and there are some signs, to be fair, that it might be doing so), tourists will not return to Thailand in meaningful numbers.
FAQ About the Future of Tourism in Thailand
What are the travel restrictions in Thailand?
Thailand’s border shut completely in late March 2020—and as September 2020, has barely budged open. In general, unless you have special circumstances pre-approved by your local Thai Embassy or Consulate, you will not be able to enter Thailand using a foreign passport.
Are airlines still flying to Thailand?
At the same time Thailand closed its border to foreigners, it banned all scheduled flights, which essentially grounded its flag carrier Thai Airways. As of September 2020, Thailand’s airspace remains closed. If you are able to visit Thailand in 2021, it will almost certainly be after flights have restarted.
Is it dangerous to travel to Thailand right now?
Before Covid-19, the question “is Thailand safe?” was a loaded one with a complex range of answers. The good news is that coronavirus is only a minor danger for foreigners lucky enough to enter Thailand right now. The bad news? Thailand’s roads are still among the most dangerous in the world, to say nothing of other hazards.
Is there a travel ban to Thailand?
Thailand has banned all foreign tourists from entering as of September 2020, though it’s possible this will change in October 2020, if a policy known as “Safe and Sealed” (more on that in the next section) goes into effect. You can probably visit Thailand in 2021, but if you want to come in 2020, it will require some suffering on your part.
Can I still travel to Thailand?
Unless you are a medical tourist, student or worker, your only chance of entering Thailand in 2020 is the aforementioned “Safe and Sealed” initiative. Details are still being worked out, but participants would need to test negative for Covid-19 before departure, and on both sides of a 14-21 day quarantine, likely in Phuket. Mai sabaay!
The Status of Thailand’s Border Closure
At the time of publication, the Thailand travel ban is still in nearly full force. As has been the case since the end of March 2020, almost all foreigners are banned from entering Thailand. Exceptions are being made for some, such as English teachers and certain medical tourists, but these travelers must jump through many bureaucratic hoops before departing their countries, then spend 14 days in hotel quarantine upon arrival in Thailand.
Whether or not you can visit Thailand in 2021 will depend not only on the ban itself, but on whether Thailand’s airspace has been re-opened. As I mentioned above, all scheduled commercial flights to Thailand are halted as of September 2020. Even if Thailand’s border has re-opened by early 2021, it will be meaningless if flights to the Kingdom aren’t operating.
Learn About the Latest Thailand Travel Restrictions
I will be updating this article as developments occur with regard to the Thailand entry ban. If, for example, some incarnation of the “Safe and Sealed” plan goes into effect on October 1, 2020, I will expand this article with a section that fully explains it. Moreover, I will post factual updates on Thailand Starts Here’s Facebook page, and commentary on my personal Twitter account.
One strategy I’ve advise against, regardless of when you want or expect to visit Thailand again, is taking too much stock of English-language Thailand news. While articles on sites like The Bangkok Post and The Nation tend to have at least some basis in fact, these publications are generally prone to heap undue praise on the Thai government, and are known to employ mercurial “journalists” for whom facts are often optional.
The Bottom Line
You will almost certainly be able to visit Thailand in 2021, but no one can say precisely when or under what circumstances. Whether under the (ridiculous) “Safe and Sealed” umbrella being pitched in late summer 2020 or based on more reasonable limitations, however, it’s unlikely that tourism in Thailand will bounce back to how it was before the pandemic, at least not initially. The great news is that economic reality always wins out in the end, especially in a country whose economy depends so disproportionately on tourism. For now, let’s all stay informed and inspired, and in awareness of the fact that this, too, shall pass.